4/20 Fiasco

4/20, a day unofficially recognised as a celebration of all things marijuana, a day to light it up and get high and other such shit. Look, I won’t even ATTEMPT to use the colloquial terms, I’m so square I could lie down flat and get a decent job as a spirit gauge. Point is, if you smoke weed, or even if you just have a general interest in the world beyond your bed, you know what 4/20 is all about. We all have our own ways of celebrating it, though I myself spend it celebrating my brother’s birthday that falls on the same day, but I think the weirdest recent recognition of the day was Snapchat’s Bob Marley filter, a photo filter for selfies that superimposed Bob Marley’s face onto yours and darkened your skin tone to match. Yeah, that does sound weird when you look at a literal description of it. Is this harmless fun? Well…

I want to put up a disclaimer and say I recognise the connection between Bob Marley and marijuana, I’m not an idiot, and my opinions on this are not influenced by the fact I have never smoked anything in my life, closest I get to smoking is salmon. As a liberal man, I support the legalisation of marijuana, it is far less harmful than alcohol, which is legal, and its criminalisation is the result of an idealistic and unenforceable war on drugs, started by our forefathers and fuelled by myths and ignorance. Marijuana is not a gateway drug or chemically addictive substance, it doesn’t blacken lungs or turn you into a violent lunatic, it is a plant that happens to have recreational benefits when set on fire, nuff said. Furthermore, my opinion is in no way influenced by the choice of Bob Marley, I’m not hating on the dude, I am not an avid fan but I do like his music and appreciate the cultural influence of the man. So, with that established, let me explain why personally I’m taken aback by this poor move by Snapback. Cue the non-PC outrage in the comments.

First of all, let’s face it, this is blackface. No, don’t bullshit me, don’t come out with “It’s not blackface, it’s…”, it’s blackface. You are taking a non-black face, putting a black face on top and playing it up for a laugh. Jim from IT is a white dude living with his mother who listens to Weird Al and Stereophonics, his weekends are spent modding Skyrim and he is most certainly not a famous rastafarian musician. Didn’t like that stereotype? Guess what? Black people don’t appreciate the making of Marley into a stereotype of a laidback black man with dreads and a funky hat smoking weed, he is a cultural icon. Snapchat has a history of struggling to accurately represent diversity, evading questions about the percentages of employee races in their company by saying they don’t think of people as numbers. I mean, amen to that but y’know, we kind of need numbers to make sense of what we’re doing, not looking at your bank balance is not the same as making the situation more financially manageable, trust me.

Bob Marley, as a man, was more than just a dude who got stoned and this filter, that immediately slaps his face on yours just because it’s the 20th April, reduces his legacy to his drug habit. Bob Marley was more than just a man who loved his weed and yes he campaigned for its legalisation but that was not all he did, he fought for peace and the fair representation of minorities, he opposed a system that dehumanizes us all but one that especially dehumanised people like him. The music he became famous for showed a love and respect for his culture and his faith, the lyrics of which resonated with the pacifists inside us and went on to influence not only a genre of music as a whole but generations of peaceful protests after him. Also, Marley didn’t smoke weed just for shits and giggles, he did it as a spiritual exercise of meditation, a means of understanding himself.

“When you smoke herb, herb reveal yourself to you. All the wickedness you do, the herb reveal itself to yourself, your conscience, show up yourself clear, because herb make you meditate. Is only a natural t’ing* and it grow like a tree.”

*Source uses ‘t’ing’ instead of ‘thing’, reflecting his accent, I have not changed this text

Read that and understand the difference between what you think he cared about and what he did care about. We far too often recall Bob Marley as just that reggae guy who got high a lot and this filter does nothing to combat that, all it’s done is said “Umm, 4/20, Bob Marley right?”, like some sort of bad joke.

Now, a counter-argument you might have for me is that Bob Marley’s family themselves approved this idea right? Well, hate to break it to you, they’re not the sole representatives of their heritage, it’s not like them saying “It’s not blackface” will make every other black person shrug and walk away like it’s not a problem, who are they to speak for everyone and tell them it’s not offensive or not perhaps cheapening the legacy of a national treasure into a joke? Marley’s image wasn’t a construct like the image of Elvis or Motley Crue, it wasn’t a style picked out to be memorable, he wore the clothes of his spirituality and his culture, making them into easy jokes for stoner humour is like making a Jesus filter for people on Easter. By the way, imagine the shitstorm we’d get if there was a whiteface filter to commemorate a dead white person hey, as a cheap joke no less? World AIDS day, we get Freddie Mercury tashes on everyone. The Marley family are, for want of better words, money-grabbers, licensing the Bob Marley image to everything under the sun they reckon would sell better if it had his face on it. I personally find that disgusting and a forewarning to my children if I ever become famous, if I die and you memorialise me by selling Old Man Wolfe branded soap, I’ll come back from the dead and wash your skulls out with it. Soap. Fucking soap. The man made an entire cultural history of music mainstream and known to the world and his name is stuck on a bar of hemp-scented soap. Fuck me.

I’m not just out to be a stick in the mud but I feel that making this filter was in poor taste, it’s harmless fun to the white would-be hippies amongst us but to those who share in Marley’s heritage, their sacred herb and an icon of their society is being made into a comic fad to amuse idiots. This will all be swept under the rug before the week is out and Snapchat won’t face any real backlash, nor will the Marley brand lose any customers for a lack of integrity, and that in itself is disturbing. We all, in 2016, just blinked at a show of blackface. Bob Marley, forgive us. Please please please forgive us.

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Ugly Words

Ever want an easy way to start a shitstorm in a comment section? Say you’re a feminist, works wonders. Want another way? Try saying Black Lives Matter and wait how long it takes for All Lives Matter to come up as the rebuttal, I’d tell you to take a drink every time that phrase inevitably surfaces but you’d be comatose in ten minutes. Of course, these are dressed up as well-meaning things, calling yourself a fighter for equality because men have issues too or saying all lives matter, not just black ones but in truth these are attempts to whitewash and control social movements by an ignorant majority – the very fact they have to distance themselves from the word feminism shows they’ve missed the point. I don’t mean a marginal misunderstanding you can correct as easily as a spelling mistake, I mean they missed the point by such a distance they’d need to catch a bus and a plane to get back to it. Still don’t get my point? Hmm, let me fill you in.

Feminism

People have the misconception that feminism is about putting women at the top of the social hierarchy and rebuilding society around the awe-inspiring might of the vagina or something. Feminism started out as a movement to give women the rights that man already had – the right to vote, to work, to own property – and through protests and other means they achieved a great deal of what they set out to do. We’ve come a long way and humanity deserves some credit for that, for the most part in modern Western society, women are not so much seen as sandwich making housemaids but are also seen as politicians, doctors and so forth, that’s great. However, gender roles are still a thing, a negative set code that is forced on boys and girls alike, which I have discussed in great length and it is so ingrained in us that just the Fem in feminism makes it an ugly word to us, associating it too strongly with women (Counter movements even take the name of Meninism). Feminism isn’t done, women are closer to being equal to men but not quite there yet – most CEOs are still men and that’s not because women don’t bother, they’re just never promoted ahead or so on, women still receive lower wages for the same work as men in various fields such as teaching, construction and management and of course there are still things such as victim blaming in rape cases and entire countries where women are still oppressed (Though meninism tries to tell Western women that they should be glad they don’t live in Saudi Arabia, like that’s an excuse to call them a slut and demand sexual favours, akin to saying “It sucks that you got mugged but at least you don’t live in Venezuela, that place is really dangerous!”). Are we so uncomfortable with our feminine selves that we must lambast a movement rooted in it for daring to suggest women and trans women, lest we forget them due to their lack of representation in the media, are in fact just as worthy as cisgender men? Feminism isn’t about taking away the rights of men, it fights to represent them in things such as the oppressive male standard and how men can be victims of domestic abuse and so on – what feminism is is gender equality, it is not so much destroying the male dominated power structure but disrupting the lack of diversity within it by allowing women to be seen as true peers to their male counterparts.

Black Lives Matter

When police brutality began claiming name after name of black victims over things such as kids holding toy guns, men fleeing in panic at the sight of a police officer and even one police officer apparently mistaking his pistol for his taser and ‘accidentally’ shooting a man dead in the street, the media didn’t sensationalise it like it does everything else – bit pieces were featured in newspapers but the world spun on not really caring all that much. Black Lives Matter is a social media campaign to get people to talk about the fact people are dying and they’re not being spoken about in the news in any great length, their murderers let off the hooks with weak excuses and attempts to besmirch the names of victims are made. Seems in this world, if you’re raped or murdered, someone has to find a way to blame you for that, not your assailant. However, this campaign was hijacked by people saying All Lives Matter, all victims should be grieved for and justice for all innocent lives claimed wrongfully… which is what Black Lives Matter is all about. BLM began because the news already covers the tragic tales of innocent young white people getting murdered or assaulted or accidentally dying in tragic circumstances, black lives not so much and if they are, it’s not with that same respect and dignity, instead it’s a “Who is really to blame?” rhetoric spurted out at us by some right-wing imbecile defending the prejudiced actions of a trigger-happy police officer. BLM, therefore, tried to say the minorities were being overlooked and in response the majority went “Oh god, if they’re being overlooked, maybe we are too, let’s make sure that’s not the case! Quickly majority, let’s make sure every single story about us is heard on every platform we have!”, forgetting the minorities who are still waiting there to be given some time on that stage. Social media is where that happens but they get shot down for daring to suggest their deaths are just as sad as those of white people, who feel offended and have to ask why BLM isn’t giving those deaths consideration. They’re not a movement for that, white people don’t need better representation in the media, we’re already the ‘default’ definition of a human being, what more do we need?

In summary, the straight white male is obviously still the demographic that has all in its favour and it fears for the length of its supremacy over all others when those others unite and demand fairer treatment. Nobody wants to take away the rights of men or white people or Christians or straight people or whatever, when gay people are allowed to marry or white-on-black violence reported in the news, nobody loses out, nobody is worse off. Feminism isn’t man-hating, BLM isn’t racial discrimination. Such movements only want to establish an equal playing field where there is no favouritism. There is no need to fear, white men of the world, we still have a pretty sweet deal going on – we run most of the world, politically and financially, most heroes in fiction resemble us and we’re the most pandered to demographic in all marketing. Equality isn’t, and has never been, a movement to destroy society, it has always been a movement about making it fairer, richer and representative of the diversity within it.

Captain America and the Conservatives

How’s about that for a title eh? Not one I ever thought I’d be writing, that’s for sure. So what’s this about? Well, in a recent issue of Captain America, the titular character fights against a super villain called the Supreme Serpent, a white supremacist trying to keep illegal immigrants out of the country by terrorising the southern border of the USA. Captain America, who I should remind you is black in his current incarnation, doesn’t much like this idea and comes to the rescue of the terrorised immigrants, defending them and facing off against the white guy. So how’d this go down? FOX News lost their shit basically, calling this a bunch of liberal brainwashing bullshit made to vilify the white conservative as being just as bad as Hitler or ISIS and asked that Marvel make the villains less white guy and more… Muslim… No shit, they genuinely suggested a Muslim extremist villain, saying that such a character is more typically seen as an enemy of America than a white guy ever would be… Let that sink in. Done? Okay, rage with me here…

Straight away, let’s address Captain America and what he represents shall we? To the unobservant eye, Captain America is just patriotism given a face and a large metal shield to wail on Nazis with and you could be forgiven for thinking that but it’s untrue. You see, Captain America was originally designed to resemble the Aryan male, a handsome blond muscular youth with blue eyes, lantern jaw and that good work ethic that made him gosh darn perfect. You might guess this is because he is meant to be the American ideal of a wholesome robust farm-boy looking character fighting for justice but it goes beyond that, it was essentially a cruel cold kick to the balls for the Nazis. The Nazi ideal was also that of a super heroic blond boy, the fact that their fantasy was the one punching Hitler in the face served as a message, that a truly ideal man does not hold to absurd visions of supremacy. Hitler was wrong, his own male fantasy was the one kicking him down and telling him not to demand perfection of others because a core part of freedom is diversity, in being diverse we are free to be different people, having a set ‘this is what you should aspire to be’ rule limits diversity and tries to push people into a pigeonhole. However, Captain America is also the representation of the values the American people are supposed to hold in high regard – honesty, defense of the innocent, righteousness – fast forward to the modern era and we have a black Captain America because, well, why not? A black man can represent those core values of righteousness, look at Martin Luther King, Jr. for example! There was no liberal brainwashing behind making Cap a black guy, it was just Marvel acknowledging that the USA isn’t the land of the white, it’s the land of freedom and justice and justice doesn’t have a particular skin colour.

So, with that in mind, this isn’t a battle of left versus right through Captain America versus Supreme Serpent because Captain America isn’t the living embodiment of the left-wing, he’s just what patriotism should be – a love of one’s country but not a blindness to its flaws, a citizen of their homeland but a citizen of the world too, always striving to encourage their nation as a whole to be better. However, FOX identified with the villains here, calling WHITE SUPREMACISTS the right-wing conservatives in their audience. You know what that means? FOX News just openly admitted, through their own stupidity, they’re white supremacists, they see these white-skinned terrorists in snake costumes with assault rifles and think “Hey! That’s me! I’m not a bad guy!”. Conservatism and white supremacy aren’t, and shouldn’t ever be, one and the same, one is a mindset based in traditional values, the other a penchant for racially motivated violence. I mean, at least FOX News are self-aware, I’ve been calling them a bunch of bigots since I first stumbled across the mindless hate-mongering of Bill O’Reilly and here they are, feeling sorry for terrorists in snake costumes and demanding Captain America make it fair by beating up some Muslims or Nazis.

Captain America, incidentally, shouldn’t go on to fighting ISIS or Muslim Extremists, there is clearly enough racial prejudice in the world without printing comic books showing gratuitous violence towards Muslims as a heroic thing to do. If Captain America exists to be a role model, racism isn’t part of that aspirational standard he should set, that’s one good reason he’s a minority – it’s not about being white, it’s about being right! Kids need to see a socially responsible hero, that’s what Captain America is for – Iron Man shows what technology and ingenuity can achieve, Hawkeye is a hero who doesn’t need powers to keep in league with the best, you don’t have to be special, you just have to try and Captain America is saying that it doesn’t matter what your background is, what matters most is that you are a good person at heart (Thus why he was a weedy kid originally and then beefed up, it was the good in him that mattered, he was never meant to be just some typical action-figure hero). As for the argument that he needs to go back to fighting Nazis, well, White Supremacists are the new Nazis, look at Trump. Build a giant wall to keep Mexicans out? Hunt down all illegally bought guns but let licensed people keep theirs, a clever sounding move until you realise illegal weapons are prevalent in poor neighbourhoods and legal ones in affluent areas, essentially meaning self defence will become a matter of how much of it you can afford to buy. ISIS are awful yes, but their tactics are made to instill fear, to turn people against each other and encourage the hatred of the white majority. Why? Because scared people are irrational and easily broken. White Supremacy, that’s a fear and loathing of difference that turns to violence – lynching, organised marches, cross burning – amassing huge swathes of people into the most intimidating displays possible to inflict as much damage as possible. If an ISIS attack is a small tactical guerilla affair to make you paranoid, a Neo-Nazi march by the extreme right wing is a bunch of angry thugs starting a riot because they don’t like being so paranoid.

In short, this comic isn’t a criticism of patriotism and conservative values, it’s a criticism of racism and extremist mindsets and there should be a differentiation between the two. If you see these white guys getting attacked by a black hero because they harassed Hispanic children and your response is “This is political brainwashing, thanks Obama!”, then think again, think hard. Captain America was taking down a bunch of armed madmen attacking unarmed civilians, that’s what a superhero does, race and nationality don’t come into it. If you want Captain America to fight with Nazis, over zealous insane crackpots who love their country and believe it the best country in the world, well then I have news for you – he just did.

White Yagami

I doubt anyone here will be surprised to learn I was massively into the anime culture as a kid and as a teenager, to a lesser degree I still am a fan. A love of Japanese animation planted in my heart by Pokemon and Digimon flowered over the years with exposure to more and more examples of the medium – Full Metal Alchemist, Psycho-Pass, Attack on Titan – point is, I can translate your ‘otaku’ friend for you into English again with some modicum of success. A good manga/anime I had come across in my travels through his sub-culture was Death Note, perhaps one of the most-well known mangas of its generation, it certainly passes the lips of every manga lover I’ve ever met at least once in their list of past reads. If you don’t know about Death Note already, chances are you either vehemently hate all things anime or you’re about to learn of its existence, either through me, or the impending movie release…

Death Note is the story of a teenage boy, Light Yagami, who finds a magical notebook with the power to kill whoever he wishes, just by writing their name on its pages. He can decide the time of death, cause of death and basically any set of foreseeable circumstances surrounding his target’s demise and rather than use this power for petty personal reasons like striking down bullies or grudges, he thinks big, real big. How big? He makes himself judge, jury and executioner to every criminal he sees in the news, striking them down and declaring himself an anonymous angel of justice. Of course, this doesn’t go unnoticed and in comes Detective L, a bizarre little man that looks like Gollum wearing a wig and eating more sweets than even the greediest of children, set on working with the genius Light Yagami to track down this mass murdering ‘angel’. What ensues is a manga that revolves around a contest of wits, enough plot twists to make the plot thread a double helix of confusion and gratuitous amounts of cold-blooded supernatural murder. Death Note is a very popular anime, manga, collection of films and source of fan-fiction and now Warner Brothers wants their name on it, specifically in the form of a Westernised Death Note, complete with a white cast and more American based story. Is this what we want? Well here’s the thing about that…

Warner Brothers have let slip precious little at this stage of their plans but so far we know this – it’s not Japan, it’s America and the lead role will be played by Nat Wolff. Nat Wolff isn’t a dreadful choice, in fact to give credit to him, he doesn’t look dissimilar to Light’s appearance. However, whitewashing is never a good idea, it just doesn’t work, you offend the people whose culture you’re essentially saying “You won’t be as good a hook for this film as said white guy/girl” and fans get irked, fans appreciate the culture of their beloved franchises as much as they do the franchise itself. Whilst the Death Note story is nothing that could not be white-washed, though the shinigami element (multiple death gods, something our culture sort of lacks) will be hard to get around, just a bunch of Grim Reapers everywhere? Or ghosts? Or haphazardly sticking with Shinigami but not the name Light Yagami? I’ve yet to see a film get whitewashed and come out better – Avatar: Last Airbender, Tonto in The Lone Ranger, Dragonball Evolution (the absolute worst thing to ever claim it was based on an anime) – it doesn’t work, it just doesn’t, you make those responsible into laughing stocks and whoever was interested in it before loses it because you’ve flipped a bird at their heritage.

In an age where Captain America is black, Thor is a woman and Spiderman isn’t always a story of a nerd given extraordinary power, maybe you’re of the camp that if white characters can be made black, why not vice versa? Firstly, white characters are not given a different ethnicity if being white is key to their character history, which is why black or Asian or Hispanic characters don’t get turned white very well, something about their heritage is key to their character. Tonto is a Native American, make him a white guy in make up and that’s what we see, a white guy in make-up, playing a parody of the character through ‘spirit magic’ and ‘war cries’, stuff the original Tonto did not do, he was actually an equal to the Ranger, not his goofy sidekick wearing a silly hat. Why can Captain America be black? Captain America represents the symbol of patriotism, at the time that was the Aryan build of Blond White Straight Male but since then there have been Black American idols – Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Barack Obama – the black culture got the recognition it deserved as being just as much a part of American history as white culture so with that in mind, Cap can be black. Thor can be a woman because it is whoever is worthy, plus Norse mythology specifically mentions female warriors in Freya and the Valkyries, no upset there, except to the Mjolnir/Penis comparison. Light Yagami might not fall in these same categories but Death Note established itself in Japan, it found a Western audience who knew it as Japanese, the entire franchise is rooted in such an origin, doing it differently alienates the old fans.

I have to say this movie premise stinks of desperation and a failure to consider who they are making this film for. Asian audiences? Offended. Anime fans? There’s already a collection of comics and films, what good is this cut-rate reboot to them? The mainstream audience? Maybe, but that either means compromising on plot and character to make commercial slop that won’t stand out at the box office or making an intelligent film that people will look right past for being boring and convoluted. You can’t claim this will be good for the source material, none of the original writing staff are involved. The director looks to be Adam Wingard, known for such films as ‘VHS’ and ‘You’re Next’ so is this going to be a horror story? Will the message of the original carry across, laden with contempt for the failures of the justice system whilst making insightful commentary on the idea of what if God’s hand did interfere and the inability of man to play that role, how power corrupts and how frail genius truly is? Or are we to expect a film about a crazed psychopath with supernatural powers played up for kicks? So many questions, how many were asked and answered at the board meeting?

I can’t predict things with certainty but I don’t see this film working out, anime to live action is a hard thing to pull off and whitewashing the entire thing only serves as a shot in the foot before the race has begun. I hope, I pray even that this falls in the gutter with the likes of Dragonball Evolution and Mortal Kombat (Granted, an American creation but Raiden, a Japanese thunder god was played by a white guy… badly… really badly) because last thing I want to see is a new wave of Westernised animes. Rachel Mayers over Ryuko Matoi, Joey’s Bizarre Adventure, another botched up attempt to make Dragonball a Hollywood franchise, there are just some things that should never happen, some things even the film industry should leave alone.

A Bond With Racism

Trigger Warnings – Some strong language

Ok, Christmas obligations dealt with, let’s get back to the normal routine with this blog shall we? I’ve passed over some interesting subjects for the sake of doing some Christmassy stuff but I want to cover these before they fade from the attention of the public and so without further adieu, I want to talk about the recent leaked tidbit of information that Sony want Idris Elba as the next James Bond. Idris Elba, perhaps my audience know him best as Heimdall of the Marvel Thor franchise and you’re probably all aware that he is black, something that James Bond isn’t typically portrayed as. Now, anyone with half a brain can tell what happened when this info became public, opinions were polarised between “Why not? He’s a great actor, go Idris!” and “James Bond as a black man? OUTRAGE! Fuck the minorities ruining everything!”. I’m here to represent the former, in particular, taking opposition to some of the most ridiculous arguments as to why he shouldn’t be allowed to take on this role after Daniel Craig.

Film buffs, do not despise me but do you remember when Ben Affleck was announced to be the next Batman? My reaction was not one of anger but acceptance, I mean, he’s an established actor, writer, director and nerd, he’s got the physical requirements and the fact nobody could imagine him as being this tough vigilante meant he’d be all the more believable as Bruce Wayne, rather than looking like a slab of muscular man meat forced into a suit and trying to enjoy fancy dinner parties, this’d be a guy who could equally at home in his mansion as his cave. I felt that was important, too many people see Batman as the mean nitty-gritty dark hero because of Frank Miller’s work but a comic book franchise needs to do more than just brood in the shadows and say “Look, this is serious now, don’t laugh at the bat costume, it’s fucking cool”, it’s still a rich boy playing out a power fantasy in dress up, let’s at least PRETEND he occasionally gets off on it, rather than sulk around everywhere spouting poetic rubbish. However, people really get attached to fictional characters and when you shake up how they see them being played, they get really upset – a concept of there being a female Doctor, a black Captain America, a female Thor – you announce these things and fans lose their shit, sure a franchise is as much about the fans as the creators but you have to let a franchise shift and change or it goes stale, that’s where nitty gritty Batman came in, the original Batman was the campiest American family friendly silliness going in comics, Frank Miller made Batman into a dark hero and then suddenly people saw Batman as nothing else, not realising that this was pigeon-holing possibilities and leading DC Comics into a filthy rut.

So, looping back to the discussion at hand, this is the same deal with James Bond, people see James Bond, they think a suave British fellow driving cars really fast, banging hot babes and blowing shit up, essentially another entitled white guy living out fantasies with a seemingly infinite pool of resources. Idris Elba is our Ben Affleck Batman then, he doesn’t LOOK like the preconceived notion of the character, ergo, he can’t be the character. Well last time I checked, Idris Elba is British and by the way, the idea that James Bond was always a Scottish man is false, that was something Ian Fleming changed his mind on after seeing Sean Connery in the role so you know, clearly even the creator can bend the rules on the character, why can’t we? Idris Elba is a great actor and maybe he’ll play the Bond we all know and love as this reckless drunken gadgethead or maybe he’ll play a different Bond, a more sombre and pensive bond like Roger Moore once did perhaps? The beauty of fictional characters is we can interpret them in different ways and each different portrayal of that character brings a new element that fans can discuss, grow to love and fantasise about even newer ideas – this is how Doctor Who refreshes itself after all, each Doctor is different, you have your hate-filled lone wolf Eccleston and you have your silly lunatic Smith, fictional characters can change, they can adapt and each new combination of actors and writers open a world of possibilities.

Rush Limbaugh weighed in on this choice and said it was akin to a white guy playing Barack Obama, admitting it sounded racist but he went by the logic of comparing James Bond to Barack Obama, here’s why that’s a shallow argument. I know James Bond is based on actual facts, loosely, Ian Fleming got the idea from things that did happen but by and large, this is a made up guy, a story, a collection of pieces of paper that can be throw away or corrected. Barack Obama, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, they’re real people and you can’t have them portrayed by white guys because what was significant about their stories was the fact they were black, that’s what made them stand out in history, not just their accomplishments but the fact that they were the greats of black American history. The first black president, the black man who fought the white system without ever raising a weapon – changing them to white guys changes the story, it’s no longer a moving tale of a minority overcoming adversity to make the world a fairer place, it becomes the story of a minority being sent a white saviour to rescue them from their oppressors. Barack Obama and James Bond are two different kettles of fish – one of them is a fictional character, the other a historical figure. You can have a black man be Bond because Bond is the story of a super spy fighting super villains and having lots of sex, that has no skin colour requirements, but to portray the first black president in a film, you kinda need to be black for the film to make sense.

So, Rush, I doubt you’re reading but it is racist to suggest George Clooney play Barack Obama but it is not a problem to have Idris Elba play a made up spy in a film that is nowhere close to being real. As for worrying about them darn minorities stealing away our fictional characters, calm down, it doesn’t take a great deal of strain to list your top ten white male heroes in fiction does it? Or top twenty, or thirty… point being, you have a lot to choose from, not every last one of them will be ‘stolen’ and even if they were, so what? If you have a problem with a black Bond or a black Captain America, you need to think about that internalised racism you have going on in your mind and seriously ask yourself why these made up people HAVE to look the way you imagine them? Do minorities not deserve to look up to characters like James Bond or Doctor Who and think “That could be me one day, I could be the next actor to play Bond!” or is daydreaming an exclusively white privilege?

Thanks as always for reading, credit goes to my friend Millie for giving me the idea, I saw her Facebook status on the topic and decided to delve into the subject myself after meaning to do so earlier. You can check her out at the link below (As in her writing, not actually oggle at her, that’d be weird)

http://www.fatalfeminism.wordpress.com

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For the record, I’m not that arrogant, my ego is actually really fragile, please like something

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It’s All Kicking Off Now!

Trigger Warnings – None.

For those of you more partial to articles in which I have a bit of a laugh, here’s one for you, but it also ties in with politics rather neatly, in particular Nigel Farage. So what’s the story? Well, Nigel has become the target of mockery once again, this time through the form of a mobile app called Ukik. Ukik is a game in which you play as Nicholas Fromage, leader of the extreme right-wing party UKIK and it is your job to kick immigrants off a cliff. Granted, the premise sounds like a fun game for a racist, you’re essentially punting Middle Easterners and Europeans into the sea from the cliffs of Dover but this game is made as a direct fart in the general direction of such creeds of people, it further exaggerates already controversial opinions of the party into full-on raving madness and even scores you according to your level of racism. So without further ado, let’s talk about this game and how the beloved man of the people chose to respond.

The game was developed by five young teenagers with the intention of poking fun at right-wing ideals and playing along with the well-established British tradition of turning a serious figure of authority into a character for comedy, Monty Python walked that line so frequently and thoroughly they had to move onto making a fool out of Jesus to feel satisfied after jokes about MPs didn’t scratch the itch any more. The group of game designers apparently enjoy making games about what is topical at the time to encourage people to discuss the subjects and with Farage seeming to be here to stay, sadly, they felt it was time he was given the proper treatment of the British public – a right royal piss take. UKIK has already received praise from the Ambition House of Canterbury Academy as those who download the app start to take a more earnest interest in politics, presumably saying “There’s no way they based this on a real guy right?”. The game is a bit out there, after all for all intents and purposes the aim of the game is still punting non-white people off a cliff whilst your avatar is a rich white guy but it’s entertainment and not for the rich white people of the world and all that aside, it’s a mobile game you won’t know about without being told so the British political system isn’t going to crumple and fall from it.

Nigel Farage decided to comment on the game and called it ‘pathetic’, saying that it ‘crossed the line’ and whilst he accepts the fact high profile public figures are targets for comedy, he doesn’t appreciate being depicted as a racist. Yes, shame on you for depicting Nigel Farage as a racist, he just hates non-white people! Erhem, Nigel Farage says he usually has a good sense of humour and that people know that much about him but there’s a line between a joke and slander which this game crosses for him. Frankly, Nigel Farage’s sense of humour seems to be on and off, he’s up for a joke at the expense of any fucker except himself like the egotistical twerp that he is.

Nigel is angry, very angry, this game is an insult to him but if I were in his shoes, I’d take some lessons away from it – one, I’m certainly culturally relevant if people are making a fool out of me in this way, that means the public know who I am and I should be flattered I’m now a well-established figure with the public such as Margaret Thatcher and George Bush, targets for abuse and mockery yes, but never forgotten. Secondly, Farage should think about why people see him in this light? Is there grounds to this joke or is it depraved and baseless humour meant for the unenlightened imbecile? The joke seems to be on your policies of immigration and dreams of jolly old England so this is the response you have merited for yourself with such talk. So, if you want to pout and throw a tantrum about this harmless game that looks like it’d be funny for ten minutes and then fade into the backdrop, what does that say about you Nigel? You can’t let one joke slide can you? You’d have seemed a better man for laughing along, maybe even encouraging the game developers to make a game mocking your rivals and you know, this was a missed opportunity to say how great it is to see young people getting involved in politics… oh wait, your target demographic is angry old men… never mind.

In summary, Farage is an idiot, so what else is new? High profile figures will always be loved and hated and whilst some will sing their praises, some will just take the mickey and that’s about it. Farage chose to respond rather humourlessly, which reminds us that he isn’t one of us, he’s a vain penny-pinching racist that can’t stand even the slightest stain on his bright white ego. So that’s that really. Where can I download this game I wonder?

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Anonymous and Azalea

Trigger Warnings – None.

Today in the news, Anonymous have threatened to leak proof of Iggy Azalea’s appearance in a pornographic video if she does not apologise for her twitter comments with regards to misappropriating black culture, insulting Azealia Banks and making light of Eric Garner’s death. The media has been calling this more of a bullying campaign carried out by the faceless organisation and just the mention of the group is enough to make many people panic, perhaps even fear mentioning them in case they become targets but we should discuss this, discuss who is at fault and how this situation seems to be playing out.

Ok, so it began with Banks making comments in a radio interview about how black culture, particularly rap and hip-hop music, has become part of the white mainstream media and how white artists such as Iggy Azalea and Macklemore get more attention for their contributions to the genre than equally talented young black performers. A difficult subject but I understand the rage, to have a part of their culture whitewashed and taken from them to be turned into another cash cow when the history of rap was never about making money, it was about the poetry of the streets, raging against the system with a beat and harsh lyrics and telling a story of real life struggles. In my opinion, rap and hip-hop have caught on, they are catchy genres of music – more so than say Welsh choir music or Maori folk songs, and it’s already caught up in the machine but like I said, I understand where she is coming from, an identity is being exploited by pop idols. Anyway, moving on, Iggy Azalea didn’t much like being called out like this and said that Azelia Banks was just bitter that she isn’t popular and this sparked a back and forth of insults and invalidating comments right up until Anonymous stepped in and then everyone was a little bit awe-struck.

Now, let’s talk about Anonymous, they say anyone can be a member but this isn’t strictly true, anyone can don the mask, wreak havoc and say they represent Anonymous but Anonymous has no representatives and whilst they can seem to have differing opinions within their own ranks, they generally have some rules that they do their best to stick to:

  • Anonymous believe in the right of free speech and expression
  • Anonymous believe in net neutrality and the freedom of information
  • Anonymous do not act for fame or wealth and any individual publicly declaring they are a member is cast out
  • Anonymous do not attack those that they feel do not deserve it

Anonymous gave Iggy Azalea 48 hours to apologise for her comments and for making light of the death of Eric Garner, a black man who resisted arrest and was caught in a chokehold by a police officer and died, his last words reportedly being “I can’t breathe”, which is apparently the joke Iggy made but lacking a Twitter account, I can’t find the tweet myself. Anonymous say they have a risqué tape of Iggy and although they won’t leak the video because they say they’re not in the business of porn, they will leak screenshots of her face to prove it is indeed Iggy Azalea in the video.

Anonymous may seem like rogues but they have ideals, in fact, ideals are the core of the group, it’s what they use to distinguish themselves from the standard hacker and even have it out for other hackers, such as the GOP for threats against Sony, to which Anonymous responded with the promise that one way or another, that film is going public. Anonymous are doing this to make a statement, perhaps to teach the idols of the modern world that you are accountable for what you say and if you want to offend swathes of people by essentially telling them to just suck it up and let the white man win, then your reputation is forfeit in more ways than one. I’m not here to say well done to Anonymous, threats are not exactly diplomatic reasoning and Iggy Azalea is just one idiot, she just happens to be the idiot that will be made example of in the name of social justice by these internet vigilantes. Frankly though, can you put requests in to Anonymous? If so, Katie Hopkins, please, just… after her last comment? That basically every terror plot is a failed attempt to assassinate her? I don’t approve of killing another human being but I’m pretty close to thinking that callous bitch is actually the daughter of Satan himself and needs to be exorcised so I either want help from Anonymous on that one, or Sam and Dean.

Erhem, anyway, I hope this blows over and the two artists reconcile their differences. Azalea would be wise to comply, people in her line of work make such a big deal out of reputations and a good image and whilst Banks perhaps didn’t respond with the right level of tact and her interview was a barrage of needless cussing, she’s angry, she had a podium and she unleashed the rage of people like her, I’d be a hypocrite if I called her an idiot to do that because the moment I got my own podium, I unloaded that anger in a blaze. Racism still exists, bottom line of that discussion, it shouldn’t but it does and the death of people like Eric Garner and the incident in Ferguson remind us it exists. Beyond that, let us see what Anonymous decides to do…

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